Duncan Garner asks why New Zealand is giving visas to migrants to work in retail and cafés.
Someone with the right attitude, and reasonable numeracy and literacy ought to be able to be trained for that work without too much trouble.
But in the regions, especially in less populous areas, getting people with all that isn’t easy.
The pool of available labour is small and often very shallow.
A café owner in a small village with a tiny permanent population and more than 40 kilometres from a reasonable sized town regularly struggles to get staff.
She has employed all the locals who are willing and able to work so ends up with migrants, usually young people most of whom want short to medium term work.
Every time any of her staff leaves she has to go through the same rigmarole even though it might only be a few weeks, and sometimes days since she’s been through it before.
She advertises and almost always gets only people from overseas replying. She then has to go to WINZ to ensure there’s no-one on their books who could do the work, and there hasn’t been yet. Only then can she employ a foreigner.
Cities might be awash with people needed for retail and cafes but tourism is booming in the southern South Island and there simply aren’t enough locals to fill these jobs in the small towns and villages.
That begs the question of who’s responsible for getting the people on WINZ’s books work-ready. But if you’re a small business, like most shops and cafés you can’t afford the time or money it takes to train someone who hasn’t got the basic skills to hold down a job; you need people ready and able to fill vacancies and more often than not there aren’t locals who can.